Anyone who has perused my many Instructables will have noticed that they have been created on two continents: North America and South America. The "Outdoor Workshop Contest" has inspired me to share some photos of one of my bases of operation; My outdoor workshop (or "oficina") in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
First a bit about the term "oficina." In Spanish, it means what you might think; "office." But in Portuguese it has a different meaning, closer to the English word for "workshop." If your car breaks down in Brazil, you bring it to the mechanic's "oficina." (I learned this distinction the hard way when I lost my luggage once, and kept asking airport employees where the "oficina" was. They must have been thinking: "This crazy gringo just lost his luggage... What does he want a mechanic for?";-)
Over the years I've learned a few important things about getting a job done right and in a timely fashion. One is always try to use the right tool for a job when possible, and the other is that it's a lot easier to get job done when you know where all your tools and hardware are. It was this later point that led me to create my "oficina" a few years back, as I would spend more time looking for tools and hardware in various places, than actually building or fixing something. It would drive me crazy spending a half-hour looking for the right screw, only to spend more time looking for the right screwdriver!
Hence my outdoor workshop was born out of the desire to be able to store all my tools, hardware and bits and pieces in one place. It's amazing how much faster you can get things done when you don't spend time searching for a screw...
For my purposes there were a few important criterion for setting up an outdoor workshop: I needed a space that would provide some shade from the often brutal Brazilian sun, and privacy from prying eyes on the street. It was also important that I be able to easily breakdown the workshop to move everything inside for safe storage, as the house spends many months of the year vacant.
The perfect spot was the under-utilized "área de serviço" or service area. This is a space that many if not most Brazilian homes have, where you can wash and dry clothes, and tend to other outdoor chores. As our "área de serviço" is rarely used, covered by a roof, and out of view from the street, it was the perfect spot!
My father-in-law built this cement framed storage area and sink attached to the side of or house some years back. He also built that terra cotta roof that covers it. ("Obrigado Moacyr!") It's great when we have people renting out the house, but when my wife and I visit, my mother-in-law is kind enough to provide all our laundering services, ("Obrigado Dona Helena!";-), leaving me with an under-utilized slop sink, and a perfect space for an "oficina."